Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 177, Seasoned Pork Loin

I first want to apologize for not being able to update my blog for the last year. We've been trying to figure out an illness with one of our children. Now that we've figured it out I have more time and energy to finish my blog.

Since it has been a while, I'll try to give you this recipe the best of my reccolection. This pork loin was bought already seasoned so it was easy to just throw together.

Peppercorn Pork Loin with Fingerling Potatoes

1 seasoned pork loin, about 1 1/2 lbs.
lettuce, 1 bag or 1 head, chopped

2 pounds fingerling potatoes

McCormick Perfect Pinch Parmesan Herb seasoning

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place washed potatoes on a cooking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 1 hour or until soft in center.

Place pork loin on foil lined cooking pan and cook for 30-40 minutes, until 160 degrees in center.

Let the pork rest for about 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 1 inch slices and serve over lettuce. Place potatoes on plate and sprinkle seasoning over them.

Serves 4

With the potatoes it can take up to an hour and 15 minutes to cook because like many people, I don't have one of those fancy ovens that do 2 different heats at once, so I had to compromise on the temperature. Normally the pork loin would be cooked at 350 and the potatoes at 425 for 45 minutes so with the heat compromise it takes longer for the potatoes ans a little less time for the pork.

I liked the flavor of the pork loin, but the kids weren't fans. The seasoning on the potatoes was ok, but it's not one of my favorites. I'd rather use fresh parmesean that I just shredded instead of something that has been sitting on the shelf for a while. The lettuce I used was arugula, which was hard to find, but now I can find it all the time in the organic section of my local Cub Foods store. If you can't find or don't like arugula, use any dark green lettuce or even spinach.

When looking for flavor, an already seasoned meat is easy to use, but it tends to have a lot of salt to help it keep. It can be easy to have marinades on your meat, just pour over the meat in a glass dish or a plastic bag in the bottom of your fridge overnight. If you have the ability to prepere things while putting them away from the store, put the marinade over them before you freeze them and you'll have a ready to make meal without any effort.

Flavor Rating: Good, not one of my favorites, but good in a pinch.

Ease of Preperation: Easy, just throw in the oven and heat, no prep needed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 176, Salad with Seafood

I just wanted a simple salad and had some imitation crab in the fridge, so I threw together some ingredients I like.

Salad with Seafood

1 bag spinach
1 (8 oz) package imitation crab flakes
1 can (3.8 oz) sliced black olives, drained
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
raspberry vinaigrette, to taste
Place spinach in 4 bowls. Top with crab, olives, and mozzarella. Add dressing, to taste.

Serves 4

Sometime great things happen when I throw together a bunch of ingredients I have around the house, sometimes I flop horribly. Fortunately this wasn't horrible, but it wasn't spectacular either. Perhaps I need to plan my meals ahead a little better. It is getting harder to make new meals every day. Six months I had no problem, but now I'm starting to have to think about what I want to make and try to remember if I made it or not.

Flavor Rating: Ok, it was palatable, but not what I really wanted.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, the only prep work was to slice the mozzarella.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 175, Homemade Pizza from Scratch

I had to test some yeast from a sample I had, so I decided to make pizza from scratch instead of a box. I even went out and bought fresh flour for the pizza.

Homemade Pizza

1 3/4 - 2 1/4 cups flour
1 envelope pizza yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup very warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees F.)
3 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
Prepared toppings of your choice:
cheese, sauce, pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, peppers, onions, etc...

Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add water and oil. Mix together until blended; about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup flour gradually until dough forms a ball. Add additional flour, if needed, to handle. Spoon dough out of bowl onto floured surface. Dough will be slightly sticky. Knead on floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic; about 4 minutes.
Place dough on a greased pizza pan and press to fill pan. Top with desired prepared toppings and bake on bottom rack for 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is browned.

Makes 1 hand-tossed pizza, serves 8-10

I had never worked with yeast before, so this was a new way of cooking for me. I ended up using slightly over the 2 cups of flour in the mixture, but it would vary depending on the humidity level of the day as to how much flour I'd have to use. I haven't seen the pizza yeast on the store shelves near me as this is a new product, but it seems like a quick yeast because you don't need to let it rise. The baking process made it rise more than I had expected. I think I would divide this crust into 2 separate crusts for a thinner crust. I don't like a thick crust, so I'd want it to be thinner than it turned out. Making it from scratch, different flours could be used; it would be easy to make whole wheat crust.

Flavor Rating: Great, fresh ingredients, fresh taste.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, it's more kneading than cookies and pies, but not as much as you'd think for a bread.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 174, Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Pork Chop

Once again I was walking by box mixes and wanted to try one. Zatarain's has a Red Beans and Rice mix that I had never had before, so I had to try it.

Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Pork Chop

1 box Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice
3 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp butter (optional)

4 boneless pork chops, cut 1/2 inch thick
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp oil

In a 2 quart saucepan combine water, butter and red beans and rice mixture. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir and serve. Red beans and rice will be saucy.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning evenly over pork chops. Cook for 5 minutes a side, until no longer pink in center.

Serves 4

I really liked the Red Beans and Rice. As someone who is not a fan of beans, I'm finding that I like them. Maybe it's my taste changing as I get older or that I'm going into these challenges with an open mind. The pork chops were spicy, I like spicy, but my husband and kids don't. I used McCormick's Perfect Pinch Cajun seasoning on these chops.

Flavor Rating: Great, it was a good Cajun meal.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, not much prep work to do when you use a mix.

Day 173, Tilapia with Sizzling Corn Relish

I had some fish in my freezer still, so I had to figure out something else to do with it. This is a light main course with plenty of flavor.

4 (6 oz) tilapia fillets
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
2 tbsp cilantro, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 to 3 tsp minced jalapenos
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 tsp no-salt-added all-purpose seasoning

Heat broiler. Line baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray. Place tilapia on baking sheet; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Broil tilapia 5 minutes or until fish just begins to flake. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the cilantro.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook and stir corn, bell pepper and jalapeno 2 minutes. Add green onions, cook and stir 30 seconds. Stir in all-purpose seasoning and remaining salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Spoon over tilapia.

Serves 4

When making this, it took longer to measure out all the ingredients and I wish I had started the topping before cooking the fish. The fish didn't take long to cook at all, but it took me a while to get all the rest of the ingredients chopped and ready to cook. I omitted all the salt, I feel that salt doesn't do much for my flavors. I know that many professional chefs will say that salt brings out the flavor, but when I add salt, that's all I can taste. This was another recipe from my Cooking Club of America magazine and the link is in the title. This would have been good with a side of brown rice.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, loved the combination of flavors.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, cut up all your vegetables before cooking anything. Wet corn will cause the oil to pop, be cautious when adding anything wet to oil.

Day 172, Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

This is another of the pre-measured spice packages from McCormick. I always have plenty of chicken around the house, so it was easy to make another chicken recipe.

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced onions
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup each lime and orange juices
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 medium bell pepper, color of your choice, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Mix juices, oil, all of the spices and salt in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add remaining marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
Cook and stir chicken in a large heated skillet on medium-high heat 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet. Add bell pepper, onion and reserved marinade; cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Return chicken to skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
Spoon chicken mixture into warmed tortillas. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.

Makes 8 servings

I served these on whole wheat tortillas, I find they taste better than the white flour tortillas, but it's probably just because I'm used to that taste in my tortillas and pastas. The pre-measured packets make cooking easier, I just have to open the spices and toss in. I liked the lime flavor in my fajitas, it added a little oomph to the fajitas.

Flavor Rating: Great, loved the lime taste.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just remember to start early for marinading time, you can allow it to marinade while you're at work so you just have to cook it when you get home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 171, Seasoned Steak

I wanted steak today, so I just tossed some steak seasoning on it and broiled it. Came out the right tenderness for me.

1 pound lean steak
1 tbsp Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning

Heat oven to broil. Sprinkle seasoning on steak and press to stick. Place steak on a broiler pan and broil for 4-5 minutes a side for medium rare. Add 1-2 minutes per side for well and subtract a minute for rare.

Serves 4

I got the less sodium flavoring, I don't feel the need for a lot of salt in my diet. This was a good seasoning, but I wish I had a grill to cook my steaks rather than having to broil them. Grilling adds a lot of flavor to the meat.

Flavor Rating: Great, I liked this seasoning.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure to place your meat near the heating element when broiling. 2-3 inches away is ideal.